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SALAD DAYS



Chef Abhijit Saha of The Park has sourced 10 different salads from across the world for the festival.

JUST THE fact that you're reading this is a dead giveaway. You're probably part of that new variety the rest of us so disparagingly call "fitness freak". Wake up at five a.m. for an early morning jog, push aside greasy dosas for a restrained glass of watermelon juice, eat a light and veggie-filled lunch, and sleep early to wake at the crack of another invigorating day. Those with less will power usually co-opt ourselves into this "healthy life-style" trend by making it at least to the salad lunch.

Complaints about Bangalore's lack of a really good salad bar can be partly put aside in view of the salad festival on at Cha-bar at the Oxford Bookstore in the Leela Galleria. Chef Abhijit Saha of The Park (which runs Cha-bar) has sourced 10 very different tasting salads from across the world for this festival. Japan, Vietnam, India, Italy, France, Greece, and Lebanon are all represented by their salads, with the added bonus of innovations from the team at The Park, combining says Chef Saha, "ingredients from across the world with experience that we have from our customers here." The intention, he says, "was to provide a variety in terms of ingredients and locations. There are 10 salads on offer, priced between Rs. 70 and Rs. 120 (for the crab salad), both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Not many of the salads would actually make a meal in themselves, but for a light lunch or an in-between snack, they fit the bill (pun intended).

Chef Saha's favourites on the menu are the Watermelon, mango, and feta cheese salad from the vegetarian selection and the Vietnamese crab and calamari salad from the non-vegetarian assortment. The watermelon salad is a Greek recipe, but Chef Saha has successfully incorporated mango into it. The salad plays off the cool, light taste of the watermelon with the fullness of the mango. Pepper and onions lend their characteristic tastes, and the cheese element makes the salad substantial. The other vegetarian salad that could fill you is the Italian roast tomato, bell pepper, and cottage cheese salad. Most salads are light, and ideal accompaniments to more substantial fare — unless you're specifically looking for a fruity or veggie quick meal; in which case they are ideal. Some salads are particularly unusual; the rice noodle and vegetable salad with pickled ginger, soya, and toasted sesame seed, being one of them. Made in Japanese style, its pungent flavour deviates from the light, fresh tastes we traditionally expect from salad. The tabbouleh Lebanese salad is also an unusual mix of tastes. The overriding taste is tangy — too tangy — but the juiciness provided by the tomatoes is nicely balanced by a slightly crispy taste.


Unadventurous salad lovers would do well to stick to classic recipes like the haricot beans, zucchini, and carrot salad with mint and garlic. Fresh vegetables are left on their own, soft and juicy, with the beans providing the right level of crispiness. The salad panache with seasonal fruits and vegetables cut small is surprisingly tasty, considering how simply it is made and would also make for a quick light lunch.

There's none of the fun of a salad bar here, where you can ponder and debate over which ingredients to pile precariously on your plate or stuff in your bowl; none of the exciting dressings you can make or break your salad with, but in terms of variety and choice this salad festival does a pretty good job.

Contact Himani on 51155222/3 for details.

HEMANGINI GUPTA

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